Nuclear Responsibilities

All nuclear states have described themselves as “responsible nuclear weapon states” or similar, but there is no consensus around what this entails.

Lead academic: Professor Nicholas Wheeler (

Non-academic partners:Sebastian Brixey-Williams (British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

Responsible Nuclear Sovereignty

The Programme of Nuclear Responsibilities is designed to develop international understanding, dialogue and norms on the responsibilities of states around nuclear weapons. The programme developed through two years’ collaboration between the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) at the University of Birmingham and the British and American Security Information Council (BASIC).

The partnership combines the ICCS’s world-leading research on norms, trust, and ethics in international relations and the London think tank BASIC’s established reputation developed over 30 years for promoting dialogue on nuclear disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation.

The Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities supports officials, researchers and journalists in understanding the deep conceptions of responsibility that shape the ways states behave around nuclear weapons. By hosting roundtables and strategic dialogues around the world, we are working with nuclear and non-nuclear states to come to a common understanding of what more responsible behaviours might look like.


The Nuclear Responsibilities Hub (forthcoming)

An interactive web application which will display the results of the joint research on how states understand their responsibilities around nuclear weapons. Supported by a grant to BASIC from HMG’s Counter Proliferation and Arms Control Centre (CPACC).

Conceptions of Responsibility Among Nuclear Weapons Possessors

The partnership secured an ESRC Midlands DTP Collaborative Studentship Award for the University of Birmingham for PhD student Alice Spilman (project commencing September 2019).

Foregrounding Nuclear Responsibilities for Risk Reduction and Disarmament (April 2019)

BASIC and ICCS hosted a side event at the 2019 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at UN Headquarters in New York in April 2019.

Geneva Roundtable (March 2019)

Alice Spilman and Nicholas Wheeler participated in a roundtable in March 2019 organised by BASIC at the Genève Centre for Security Policy with non-nuclear weapon states to discuss the nuclear responsibilities programme. 

Kuala Lumpur Roundtable (March 2019)

A one-day roundtable on ‘nuclear responsibilities’ held on 6th March 2019, hosted by the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) in Malaysia.

Tokyo Roundtable (January 2019)

A one-day roundtable on ‘nuclear responsibilities’ held on 22nd January 2019, hosted by the Centre for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Japan.

Linked projects 

Nuclear Ethics and Global Security (ESRC/ AHRC)


British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

Further details:

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